Field Fisher scraps senior partner role in wide-ranging review

Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) is set to scrap its senior partner position and introduce an elected supervisory board to keep management in check as part of a wholesale overhaul of the way the firm is run.

Matthew Lohn
Matthew Lohn

The supervisory board will consist of four partners voted in by the rest of the partnership and will be responsible for holding the main management board to account, giving feedback on the board’s ideas and acting as an intermediary between partners and management.

Members will be elected for a three-year term on a rotational basis to ensure its membership changes. At least one member will be from an office outside the UK.

The four partners will also vote among themselves for a supervisory board chairman, a position that will replace the senior partner role held by corporate partner Nicholas Thompsell since 2009 (8 June 2009).

Partners voted to ratify the constitutional reforms last Tuesday (10 January), laying the path for the new regime to come into force at the end of April. The Lawyer flagged the constitutional review in August last year (1 August 2011).

The firm is also rolling out a new-look executive committee appointed by managing partner Matthew Lohn, as well as a brand new remuneration committee to decide on partner earnings, a process currently carried out by the management board.

The executive committee replaces the current federalist system that consists of representatives from each practice area and several further sub-committees focusing on areas such as finance and business development. It will consist of partners, business service heads and will be responsible for overall firm management.

FFW said the changes will “modernise and streamline” the way the firm is managed

The changes date back to the firm’s away day at the Mint Hotel in the City last March, when the existing board presented a report on the proposals to the partnership.

The board spent the summer of 2011 consulting partners and delegated the task of developing the ideas to corporate partner Dominic Gurney-Champion, media group head Tim Johnson and technology and outsourcing partner Andrew Lucas.

The results of the constitutional review were presented to the management board late last year and were set to be discussed by the board in December.

FFW is also taking soundings from partners as part of a strategic review that will see it alter its sector approach by cutting down the number of focus sectors significantly from the 11 currently listed on its website. The review was a board initiative commissioned by Lohn, who took over as managing partner in October (20 October 2011).

Lohn said in a statement: “We recognised the need to modernise our structure to ensure efficient, transparent and effective management whilst ensuring the partnership retains control and oversight of the firm.  We are now in the process of implementing the changes which put the firm in good shape for continued growth and expansion in our core areas.”